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Sibyl Collins Wilson

journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, was born in Muskegon, Michigan, to Ezra Douglas and Natalie VanArsdale Bell. As a youngster, Bell was such a committed reader that visits to the library were withheld from him as punishment for misbehaving. His love for reading served him well throughout his life.

Bell enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1968 and remained in the service until 1970, after which he attended the University of Michigan for a year. After relocating to New York, he attended Hofstra University for free because he worked as a custodian, maintaining classrooms in 1970. Applying those same principles of hard work in exchange for opportunity, he joined the staff at Newsday and worked his way up from custodian to Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist. According to a biography written for the Pulitzer Prize award book, he held many positions in the Newsday organization including porter clerk ...

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Mark G. Emerson

Born in Lynn, Massachusetts, Charles Remond Douglass was the third and youngest son of Frederick and Anna Murray Douglass. Named for his father's friend and fellow black antislavery speaker Charles Lenox Remond, Charles attended the public schools in Rochester, New York, where the family moved in late 1847. As a boy, he delivered copies of his father's newspaper, North Star.

As a young man, Charles became the first black from New York to enlist for military service in the Civil War, volunteering for the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. Unlike his brother Lewis, who also served in the Fifty-fourth and became a sergeant major in that regiment, Charles was unable to deploy with his fellow troops owing to illness. As late as November 1863 Charles remained at the training camp in Readville Massachusetts He ultimately joined another black regiment the Fifth Massachusetts Cavalry rising to ...

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Mark G. Emerson

As the second son and namesake of his father, Frederick Douglass Jr. was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He attended public schools in Rochester, New York, where he also helped his brothers, Lewis and Charles, to aid runaway slaves who were escaping to Canada on the Underground Railroad. While he did not serve in the Civil War as his brothers did, Frederick acted as a recruiting agent for the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Infantry regiments, as did his father. Following the war, Frederick attempted to enter the typographical workers' union. When that plan failed, he went with his brother Lewis in 1866 to Colorado, where Henry O. Wagoner, a longtime family friend, taught him the trade of typography. While he was in Colorado, Frederick worked with his brother Lewis in the printing office of the Red, White, and Blue Mining Company. In the fall of 1868 Frederick returned ...

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Leigh Fought

Helen Pitts was born in Honeoye, New York, the daughter of the white abolitionists Gideon and Jane Wills Pitts. Her father began working with the renowned abolitionist and escaped slave Frederick Douglass in 1846. Thus, from an early age Helen knew of Douglass and his work. Her parents, wealthy enough to pursue their progressive ideals, ensured that she and her sisters, Eva and Jane, received a better education than most girls of the era. Although few institutions of higher learning accepted women students, Eva attended Cornell and Helen and Jane both attended Mount Holyoke College. Helen graduated in 1859.

Reconstruction offered Helen the opportunity to combine her education with her activism. She moved to Norfolk, Virginia, to teach in a school for freed slaves in 1863 The swampy climate there took its toll on her health and the violent hostility faced by the African American ...

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Donald Yacovone

Civil War soldier, reformer, and businessman, was the second of five children of the abolitionist leader and orator Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) and Anna Murray Douglass (1813–1882). Lewis, born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where his father settled shortly after his flight from slavery, proved the most successful of the Douglass children and the one his father most relied upon in later years. After the family moved to Rochester, New York, the eight-year-old Lewis and his siblings became beneficiaries of his father's successful efforts to desegregate the city's public schools—a tradition that Lewis maintained as an adult when he lived in the District of Columbia. As soon as he was old enough, he helped his father with the publication of his antislavery newspapers and after his father fled Federal authorities in the wake of John Brown's 1859 raid at Harpers Ferry the nineteen ...

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Mark G. Emerson

and a son of Frederick Douglass. Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Lewis Henry Douglass was the second child and eldest son of Frederick and Anna Murray Douglass. When Lewis was eight the family moved to Rochester, New York, where the boy was educated in public schools. After finishing his education, Lewis helped his father with his newspaper North Star, learning the printer's trade. Considered the ablest of Douglass's children, Lewis was the person Frederick Douglass asked to secure his papers from John Brown after the Harpers Ferry raid to prevent federal marshals from discovering them.

During the Civil War, Lewis enlisted in the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, attaining the rank of sergeant major and taking part in the attack on Fort Wagner, South Carolina, in July 1863 After the war Lewis and his brother Frederick Jr went to Denver Colorado where Lewis worked as a ...

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Lamonte Aidoo

freeborn mulatto who overcame a series of challenges and adversities, including illegal enslavement, was born on 21 June 1830 in Salvador, capital of the northeastern Brazilian province of Bahia to an African mother, Luisa Mahin, and a Brazilian father of Portuguese descent. Gama became one of Brazil’s most respected journalists, lawyers, poets, and abolitionists during the nineteenth century, especially in the final decades of the slave regime.

Mahin was originally from the Nagô nation located in the area of present day Ghana Although Mahin had been taken captive and enslaved she earned money selling fruit on the streets of Salvador and was able to purchase her freedom by the time Gama was born Gama described his mother as at once beautiful strong and vindictive She refused to accept her status as a slave or to convert to Christianity or allow Gama to be baptized More importantly she is said to ...

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William B. Gould

Union navy sailor in the Civil War and journalist, was presumably born into slavery, in Wilmington, North Carolina, to Elizabeth “Betsy” Moore of Wilmington, a slave, and Alexander Gould, who was white. William had at least one sibling, Eliza Mabson, who acquired her last name by virtue of a publicly acknowledged relationship with George Mabson, a white man in Wilmington. She eventually became the mother of five children by Mabson, including her son George L. Mabson, the first black lawyer in North Carolina.

Little is known about William B. Gould's early life. As a young man he acquired skills as a plasterer or mason, and he learned how to read and write, although those skills were forbidden by law to slaves. His initials are in the plaster of one of the Confederacy's most elegant mansions, the Bellamy Mansion in Wilmington. Among his young friends were George Washington ...

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Sibyl Collins Wilson

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and radio talk show personality, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Ruby (maiden name unknown) and Roger Henderson. When he was a teenager, he and his family moved to Oakland, California. After graduating from high school, Henderson attended the University of Kentucky and graduated in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. He pledged the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. After obtaining his degree, he interned with The Walt Disney Company and newspapers such as The Detroit Free Press and the Lexington Herald Leader.

In 1986 he took a job with the Louisville Courier‐Journal in Kentucky, after which he worked as a beat reporter for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida. In 1995 he joined the Detroit bureau of the Wall Street Journal to cover the automotive industry with a focus on the Chrysler Corporation He was appointed as the deputy bureau ...

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Luther Brown

journalist and editor, was born in Okolona, Mississippi, to James Lee Raspberry, a school shop teacher, and Willie Mae Tucker an English teacher and amateur poet Both parents were intensely interested in education and in seeing to it that their children were the beneficiaries of good educations They prodded their six youngsters to achieve instilling in them a passion for reading a positive approach to life and a desire for logical thinking From his mother Raspberry said that he learned to care about the rhythm and grace of words and from his father he recalled learning that neither tables nor arguments are worthwhile unless they stand solidly on four legs Raspberry went north first moving to live with an older sister in Indianapolis In a few years the rest of the family left the South to become residents of Indianapolis where Raspberry and the rest of his ...

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Charles Rosenberg

newspaper heiress, editor, and socialite, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the oldest child of publisher Christopher J. Perry and Cora Perry. Her father was born of free parents in Baltimore in 1854 and went to Philadelphia at an early age to get an education denied to children of his color in his native city. In 1884 he established the Philadelphia Tribune, which in time became the oldest continually published newspaper written and edited by, and for, Americans of African descent.

Bertha Perry grew up in the Lombard Street Presbyterian Church, where her parents were members. At the age of twenty-nine she continued to live with her parents and two of her three younger sisters, Beatrice Perry and Ethel Jackson, who all worked as clerks at the newspaper. When their father died in May 1921 Bertha Perry became managing editor and women s editor her sister Beatrice ...

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Toko  

Jeremy Rich

Very little is available about his early life Some traditions collected by researchers in the twentieth century suggest Toko was a slave or of partial slave descent Whether he was born on the coast of the Gabon Estuary or came from another part of the country Toko managed to become a prominent trader by the early 1840s He belonged to the Agakaza clan of the Mpongwe community that dominated trade on the northern bank of the Gabon Estuary Within Mpongwe society many people of partial or full slave descent could own slaves themselves and act relatively independently of their masters Toko s success in business made him one of the wealthiest Mpongwe men in the entire community Mpongwe merchants held a monopoly on direct access to visiting European Brazilian Cuban and São Tomean ships seeking slaves exotic woods ivory and other natural resources Toko lived near the village of Glass ...

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Roy E. Finkenbine

abolitionist, civil rights activist, and journalist, was born a slave and spent the early years of his life in bondage in the Mohawk Valley near Albany, New York. His master was probably a member of Albany's wealthy Van Rensselaer family. He ran away from slavery in 1819 and, although his master circulated handbills and sent slave catchers as far as Canada to recover him, he eluded recapture. Eight years later he became legally free when slavery was finally abolished in New York State. In 1837 he visited and reconciled with his master, prompting the antislavery press to label him “a modern Onesimus,” a biblical reference to Philemon 10:16.

While residing in Princeton New Jersey in the early 1830s Van Rensselaer became attracted to the emerging antislavery movement He settled in New York City by mid decade married joined an independent black church and established a restaurant that ...

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Joshunda Sanders

one of the nation's most prominent journalists and the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in journalism, was born in Washington, DC. Her parents, whose names are unknown, were born in Georgia and Southern Virginia and migrated to Washington, DC, where they met at Howard University. Wilkerson would later write in her epic first book, The Warmth of Other Suns (2010), that their story piqued her interest in Southern migrants moving to the urban North in what she would later call an “internal immigration.”

Wilkerson's interest in journalism began early. She edited her high school newspaper before she went on to attend her parents' alma mater. As a student at Howard, she rose through the ranks at the college newspaper, The Hilltop, to become editor in chief Her flair for narrative reporting was noticed in the early 1980s when she won a national Sigma ...